By Ed Dalton
On Tuesday, 8/14/18 a massive demonstration was held in Rio de Janeiro for the 23 activists sentenced up to 13 years in prison for their involvement in the protests against the FIFA World Cup in 2013 and 2014. Under the slogan “it’s not just for the 23 but for everyone who struggles”, they demanded the right to protest, coming out against military intervention, the racist murders of black Brazilians in the favelas and against the political murder of former city council woman Marielle Franco, a black bisexual feminist from the favelas who was an outspoken opponent of police violence.
The demonstration had participation from mothers and family members of those murdered by the Brazilian state as well as a number of revolutionary organizations of the masses and progressive intellectuals. The demonstration ended in front of a government building where activists and family spoke out against the imprisonment of the 23 and the genocide in the favelas.
The campaign has seen support from all over the world, in Latin America, the USA and Europe, with protest actions, graffiti and public statements of solidarity. Most notably recently released Palestinian political Prisoner and brave fighter of the Palestinian people Ahed Tamimi, took a photo of herself holding a sign in Portuguese which read “struggle is not a crime! I support the 23”
In the words of one of the 23 activists, Igor Mendes who is recognized by revolutionaries all over the world as a leader of the Brazilian youth, “The greatest crime these rulers commit is to steal the life of our youth daily. There are 60,000 killed annually. And who are the murdered? They live in the slums, they have black skin, they are workers!” he went on to explain that the so-called left of the Brazilian government has only sat by as the poorest of the poor are subjected to genocide. Referring to electoral politics he would state “so this is not our fight. It’s a scam! Only those who can defend us are ourselves!”
More campaigns and protests surrounding the 23 are to continue taking place in Brazil and abroad in the future. This battle has just begun.